Saturday, 20 August 2011

Tantra & Tantric Festivals

The Sat Chandi Maha Yajna festival is a five day tantric festival held each year, presided over by Swami Satyananda the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga. I have just seen a film of it (Love & the Art of Giving by Simon Eugene .See You Tube Video). A central feature is prasad or giving of gifts from the divine and distributing them to the poor and also the work of preparation; a meditation of selfless giving in the days before the festival opens I have also just come back from a Tantra Festival in UK; the third I have attended. Of course the differences are absolutely enormous and their juxtaposition highlights the differences between tantra East and West.  There are similarities; the giving of the many before and during the event to make it all happen; the ending "thank you"s - an acknowledgement of bhakti yoga.

Some of the differences are cultural; in India the children are all proudly in uniform; people are happy to stand in lines; the individual is clearly small compared with the totality of the festival. In the West the Tantra Festival is a festival of individuals all doing their own thing,  there for their own needs. What they mostly get is music - often rather loud, lots of dance and lots of chances to meet others. For most, this is what they want; however it may not be what they need, and unfortunately it only hints at what tantra is really about; unless tantra is thought to be about personal development and sexual bravado.

What is missing is devotion to a anything beyond themselves, and the use of mantra and ritual as a way of getting there. Mantra is the most powerful method of accessing sublime states of consciousness. Ritual holds the focus on the Divine not the small self. Through both you can touch emptiness. Any workshop is a taster; and at a festival even more so. A taste of transcendence can lead to a hunger for it which can propel the seeker further. In the West, without any shared  framework we can only offer experiences and hope that enough of the power of Shiva to witness and reflect is present that they can explore more deeply. I just wish it was easier to impart some of this quality. Shiva is more subtle than the power of Shakti and the festival is mostly a "fairground" of Shakti - sound, movement, music, intensity, brightness.  Such intensity is rather addictive and leads to a search for the next high which is away from the settling in to ease and real presence which is where consciousness can be found.


  1. YES YES YES! Let us invite a space at the UK Tantra festivals for devotion. Let us build a temple space in which people can sit in silent meditation, with bajans and devotional chanting in the evenings so that we can offer all of the energy moving through us to the Divine. Without devotion, the energy we move can overwhelm people, and distract them for the purpose of practice. Let us hold sacred space so that we can remember that all of this energy that moves through us is the Mystery, the Divine. With that honoring and that gratitude we can really experience the humbling Truth of Tantra. Thank you Martin, for reminding and for standing in Truth. No one is wrong here...ALL is included, from the root raunchy stream sexy energy, to the loving connecting intimate expressions, to the profound, transcendental, spiritual worship! Let us all move into totality!

  2. You said it all dear Shashi. As well as Swami Satyananda. It's like we're children becoming more refined as we learn to see deeper...and yet still know how to Play. I hope to make it to the next one and be part of building that temple you mentioned. YaY!
    ‎☮((((((((ONE ♥ LOVE))))))))☮